Signal Tower Museum


The Signal Tower is a museum in the coastal town of Arbroath, Angus, Scotland.Working lifeOriginally built in 1813 as a base of operations for the famous Bell Rock Lighthouse, the Signal Tower housed the families of the keepers stationed on the 'rock', along with the vital shore staff who ran the lighthouse tender supplying the light. The name Signal Tower comes from the signalling apparatus installed atop of the tower building that was used to communicate between the shore staff (the Master Of The Tender) and the keepers of the lighthouse. An identical set of signalling apparatus is installed atop the lighthouse itself. Installed within the Signal Tower was a small observatory outfitted with a powerful telescope; it was through this telescope that the signalling apparatus on the lighthouse was monitored during the day. In an age before wireless communications, the ball system employed by the Bell Rock was seen as state of the art technology. At night, any fluctuation to the light would see the supply vessel set sail for the 'rock' to investigate.The signalling apparatus worked with a ball hoisted up and down a pole. The Master of the Tender or one of his staff was responsible for keeping watch between 9am and 10am, during which period the lighthouse keepers would hoist the ball up to the top of the pole if all was well. During foggy weather, the watch was postponed to 1pm. If the ball did remain down, it usually signified a major emergency such as a chronic shortage of provisions or illness of one of the lighthouse keepers, in any case, the tender was launched and would sail for the lighthouse as soon as possible. In 1955, with the advent of helicopters and faster boats, staffing for the lighthouse was carried out from Leith, home of the Northern Lighthouse Board.


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